Retail giant Walmart have applied for a patent that describes a blockchain ledger for tracking sales and product resales, according to reports emerging today.
According to documents released by the US Patent and Trademark Office in recent days, the filing outlines a system to track items sold to each customer, and to allow them to set a price for resale – essentially serving as a digital marketplace for sales of used products.
The application also references another patent pending technology from the firm, for distributed delivery tracking, which is assumed in the description of the new technology within the patent application.
The most recent blockchain patent describes how their “distributed delivery record blockchain” would record multiple transactions at each stage of the sale, from seller to distribution to buyer – details immutably ascribed to the blockchain.
Walmart elaborated at length how the new technology would work in practice, based on digital signatures secured by private keys.
“By one approach, the transfer from the seller to the courier may require signatures from both the sender and the courier using their respective private keys. The new transaction may be broadcasted and verified by the sender, the courier, the buyer, and/or other nodes on the system before being added to the distributed delivery record blockchain.”
“When the package is transferred from the courier to the buyer, the courier may use the courier’s private key to authorize the transfer of the digital asset representing the physical asset from the courier to the buyer and update the delivery record with the new transaction.”
Walmart has already been active in the blockchain space, with a number of patents filed around the technology and use cases for DLT. This comes as the latest in a series of similar filings, as the firm continues to explore new use cases.
The company has already explored a blockchain solution for tracking food supply chains, and moved to test automatic delivery technology across a sample set of customers during a trial in California.
Walmart has also teamed up with IBM in a collaboration with other major consumer goods products including Unilever and Nestle to develop the technology.